The Institute

After waking up from his two-year coma, Axel finds himself in a world where he can't find his family, where nobody will help him, and where the entire country has been taken over by a corporation called the Institute.

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1. Prologue

April 11
7:34 A.M
the Institute

Chairman of the Institute, Damon Kings, drank his usual morning coffee while watching the world below from his office window above. Colorless cars were being driven up and down town in an orderly fashion. The surrounding buildings and skyscrapers seem flimsy and worn compared to the tall, shining main building of the Institute.
     There is a knock on the door.
“Come in,” said Kings, without letting his gaze stray from the view.
“Yes, master,” the butler, Holland, walked in. “I have brought her, sir. The woman you asked for?”
     There was a pause, then, “Let her in. You may be excused, Holland.”
The butler thanked his master and stepped out of the room. Through the door, Kings heard a “He would like to see you now,” but heard no reply in return as the door opened and closed behind him.

The chairman took a drink from his coffee, set it down on his desk and turned around. In front of him stood a young woman, just under her twenties. Kings looked her up and down. She wasn’t what he had expected her to be. She had wavy short black hair, grey-blue eyes and the palest skin. Of average height, for her age. A very skinny and boney girl. She wore a black jacket and shirt and knee-length skirt, though it didn’t seem like her nature to wear it at all, it was as if she was forced into it.
     But perhaps the oddest of her features was that she showed no emotion. No greeting hand gestures or smiles. Her face showed no expression whatsoever, it was blank.
     “Well!” Kings said with a chuckle. “Not exactly what I expected.” He laughed a bit more but could see no change in her look. “Excuse me. You must be Rooney.” He took her hand and kissed it, gesturing to the couch. “Please, sit. I’ll make this quick, I have a meeting to attend to very soon.”
     Kings made his way to the television (which almost filled the entire wall) and turned it on. They were airing the weather forecasts in monotone. Glancing back at Rooney he saw she was sitting cross-legged watching, not the TV, but him, following his every movement, with those big, grey-blue eyes and that mysterious look of hers.
     Kings proceeded to turn on the radio, raising the volume. From under his desk he snatched last week’s newspaper, the headline reading, ‘PHYSIOLOGICAL PREDICTION PROVED FALSE!’, and threw it down on the table in front of Rooney, who barely gave it a notice.
     He waited for all this to have an effect on the girl, if any. It didn’t. She just sat there, patiently, quietly, watching him. Finally, Kings raised his arms in a world-gesturing manner. “Ah, beings of the Earth,” he sighed. “Such art we’ve created! Such a painting we’ve painted!” He dropped his hands and took some steps toward his visitor, taking her hand with a smile. “Someday, lovely Rooney, all this will belong to you. To use it for your every so desire. Anything you want will be at the snap of your fingers,"--at this he snapped his long pale fingers-"at all times.”
     Kings got closer, kneeled down, lifted Rooney's
 pale chin in his fingertips and leaned in so that they were nose-to-nose with each other. Lowering his voice, he whispered, “And darling, if you ruin my painting, my beautiful, beautiful painting, I will be sure to destroy every last part of you.”

    Rooney stared with a blank expression.
They stared into the other’s eyes, then a phone rang. Kings let out an irritated sigh and dropped the boney chin. “I’ll be taking my leave now,” he said, migrating towards the door. Before opening it he looked back at the Institute’s new heir, who watched him with the same look she met him with. With a satisfied smirk on his face, Kings left.

Rooney sighed and looked out the window.

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